Marko Mandić, Bojan Jablanovec
2 February 2022
»History: the devil in us, in me, in you.«
(Peter Handke: Storm Still; MandićCircus, role no. 63)
Ten years after the premiere of MandićMachine (on 25 June 2011, at the Old Power Station, Ljubljana), and as its 100th repeat performance is approaching, the award-winning show is now followed by MandićCircus performance. Due to the content of the original project, the idea for a sequel to MandićMachine was conceptually inscribed at its onset. At its inception, MandićMachine included a compilation of 37 stage roles created by Marko Mandić in the period from 1996 to 2010. It was conceived as a showcase of Mandić’s genre-wise extremely diverse acting creations, a kind of living museum of theatre and performance aesthetics, in which the quoted characters retained their physical characteristics, original lines, stage elocution, typical situations, original costumes, props and music. MandićCircus, however, is not just an addition to the series of acting quotations and refuses to be described as a continuation of MandićMachine.
MandićCircus is a new and fresh start: it comprises all the roles that Mandić has created since the beginning of his stage acting career in 1996 until May 2021, totalling 91 acting creations. Although it follows the original conceptual premise of MandićMachine (»The actor as a machine for the production of emotions, the actor as a medium of identification, the actor as a body of fascination.«), it is not a continuation but a consequence of Mandić as a machine for the production of emotions. MandićCircus transcends the logic of the living museum of performance arts aesthetics – it is rather a subjectivised history uploaded and fermented in the memory, intimacy, consciousness and body of the creator, actor and performer, who reflects with his body and presence, who manipulates emotion, who offers himself elusively for identification, and who is kept alive by his fascination with theatre.
In Circus, Mandić ruthlessly squares it out with the actor and the performer, the artist and the narcissist, the exhibitionist and the voyeur, the divine and the banal, the pathology of ambition and the misery of success … In doing so, he is as unforgiving of himself as he is of the spectator – they both establish and enable a Faustian theatre-inherent consensus that is, in its essence, no different from the ideological apparatus of the state. On the contrary: the state and the theatre alike – be it when they criticise or praise – are media for the production of ideological fiction. Or, as Pascal Rambert puts it in Love’s End: » … it is not the world that is bad, it is the fiction in which we enclose it that makes it repulsive.« (MandićCircus, role no. 64) This schizophrenic noose, which is increasingly tightening around the neck of the individual and slowly eroding the chair on which he stands in the name of community, inclusivity, political correctness, etc., is also gushing out of Mandić’s solo.
In his Circus of egomaniac subjectivisation, Mandić selectively appropriates from everything he has ever uttered on stage and in his performances, regardless of who wrote it, when or why. Everything he has ever uttered, performed, acted, shouted, recited, scanned, sweated out, internalized, or extracted – all of it has shaped his unique habitus, and all of it spews out onto the spectacle-like surface of the Circus. »My dignity is a smirk … Followspot me, cunt!« (Wajdi Mouawad: Scorched; MandićCircus, role no. 89) The only objective fact establishing a conceptual foundation of the project is Mandić’s biography, comprising 91 acting creations from 1996 to 2021. MandićCircus strictly follows the chronology of their making.